VALPARAISO — Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy issued a statement Friday afternoon condemning "any act that is racist, hateful, violent, or discriminatory against any person, or group of people."
"The City of Valparaiso strives to maintain and encourage a civic environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all people," he said. "Valparaiso stands for the principles of freedom and equal opportunity."
Murphy said he issued the comments to reaffirm the city's position in light of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody and the nationwide discussion on racism that has followed.
"Now more than ever, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement are important for our city, state and nation," he said. "No group or individual should feel targeted or excluded."
"The Mayor’s Advisory Human Relations Council offers all citizens the ability to be heard and to share their experiences, insight and suggestions as to how to make Valparaiso a better community," Murphy said.
The city's human rights ordinance, which was adopted in 2016, provides a process for the city to investigate inappropriate acts and "to foster conversation, understanding and reconciliation between parties," he said.
Murphy also spoke out in support of the importance of public and peaceful demonstration in the country and local community in creating an important dialogue.
"We commend citizen leaders who in the last several months have organized prayer vigils, walks and other peaceful assemblies," Murphy said. "We also commend our police chief and all officers for their work in assisting and protecting all individuals exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble."
"As we move forward, we recognize that statements have value, but action is necessary," he said. "All associated with Valparaiso city government will continue to work with individuals and organizations of good will to ensure Valparaiso is an open and welcoming community to all."
Murphy thanked the members of the local Advisory Human Relations Council for their help in drafting the statement.